When I was a little girl my grandmother would tell me a story she called “The Place that Never Was.” It was about a fairy princess, who dressed in her finest, rested in the shade of a tree. From the branches of the tree hung crystal glasses with straws and anytime the princess was thirsty all she had to do was sip the sweet nectar. There were servants who delivered delicious delicacies before the princess could even ask for them and others who fanned her while she slept. The princess’s life was charmed.
I imagine my grandmother named the story “The Place That Never Was” because her generation mostly knew hard work and struggle. I’m sure she longed to rest and be pampered but she couldn’t fathom a place where she would truly feel like a princess.
The last time I took a luxury cruise and a white-gloved staff member escorted me to my suite perfumed with the scent of fresh flowers, I thought of my grandmother. If she were here, I would tell her a story. I would call it “The Place That Really Is.” It’s a place where amenities grow like flowers, and cashmere blankets wait to cover you while a gentle ocean rocks you to sleep. It’s a place where feeling special is the most important thing.
Luxury Lines know that ship amenities draw upscale seafarers because of their fairy-tale quality. Everybody who boards, no matter what their lives held before they boarded or what challenges they face when they arrive home, for a suspended period of time, feel like princes and princesses.
From the English butlers of Azamara’s suites to the in-suite complimentary binoculars of Regent’s Concierge level and the Balcony class suites of Voyages to Antiquity, luxury cruise lines are adding amenities. They know amenities are the shining crown atop an already regal cruise experience.
Amenities have been integrated into every aspect of a luxury cruise and vary according to ship and level of service. In luxury suites, spaciousness is an amenity. Sleeping and living areas are separate and designer linens cover the beds. There are lots of storage drawers and lighted walk-in closets with room for formal wear. Refrigerators are stocked with premium spirits, water, soda and mixers. Crystal glassware and bar set-ups are included. Plasma televisions with stereo and DVD players top it off.
The bathroom is an oasis. Jacuzzi tubs with designer fixtures and fully tiled tubs and showers are spa quality. Lotions, shampoos and bath salts are there too. Costa started the Spa Cabin trend that carries free access to their spa restaurant with health conscious menus. Yoga mats are in the suite along with healthy room service menus. Other lines like Celebrity and Holland America have followed Costa’s lead.
Most recently, discounts and free services have become amenities. Wine and liquor as well as shore excursions are discounted at certain service levels. Free pre-cruise luxury hotel stays, ship-to-shore phone time and Internet access are part of the distinction that comes with a higher-priced suite or upgraded level of service.
In today’s economy the rich and affluent do not opt for conspicuous consumption. They will spend their money but they need a value proposition. Amenities are not extras. They are comforts and features that justify cost.
Luxury travel consultants can lead their clients to “The Place That Really Is.” All they have to do is become storytellers making the feeling of cruise amenities spellbinding. Fairy tales always have happy endings, and in this story, that means happy clients and increased sales.
Sail with Platinum Seminars and in addition to learning about who buys luxury cruises, why they buy them, and how to sell them, you’ll learn more about how to make amenities an integral part of your sales presentation.
By Barbara Mangini